It’s October, it’s Winter, it’s the end of the tri season…time to take on Cross Country running (or X/C, as the cool kids refer to it). This is a must for all aspiring road runners and triathletes looking to head into 2014 a stronger, faster, tougher, and basically, better runner. The hillier courses over relatively short distances (anywhere between 3-10km) mean you will get in some of your greatest ever core and leg-strength workouts while keeping the joints in check due to lower mileage and being on soft grassy terrains. Check out the range of online articles at the bottom of this blog post to help you become a serious X/C racer and take a nice well deserved break from those firm track and even firmer road surfaces!
For those completely new to cross country running it may be a daunting prospect, offering a complete unknown in terms of racing, training, fitness and gear. I remember the week before heading to my first race thinking it was going to be mayhem, running through muck up to your hips, leaping over fences, ditches and puddles and putting myself through a completely unnecessary form of hell to finish last against actual cross country runners…you know, the kind of guys who live in the mountains and run up vertical slopes for a laugh. But I was completely wrong…
…Well I was right about the muck, leaping ditches and puddles and putting myself through hell but I was wrong about how much fun and excitement these races give, along with the immediate gains in fitness and running ability and not to mention the psychological gains from knowing you can take on and conquer bad weather and tough, changing terrain. It can also offer new runners, and particularly younger runners, a great taste of organised and competitive racing.
Training partners have said to me how my running has came on leaps and bounds since this time last year and all I could say was it was down to the 2012/13 cross country season, where I also managed to win the Kilkenny County Intermediate Championship and was on the winning team for the County Senior Championship with Kilkenny City Harriers. For the months ahead X/C is all I will recommend to anyone willing to listen to me! My own X/C season kicks off this Sunday with the Leinster Novice Championship in Dunboyne, Co. Meath, then rolling all the way through until next March taking in some A level races (National Intermediate, National Novice, Kilkenny County Senior) and a host of smaller B & C level races.
Cross country helps you improve, whatever your goals
I have searched through the world wide web to dig up some of my favourite articles on X/C running, covering topics for newbies starting off to those more experienced looking for some interesting training regimes and race strategies. Start digging into the links below, get in with your local running club, invest in a decent pair of X/C runners and enjoy your Winter runs through our mucky fields. Mo Farah started off as a cross country runnner…need I say anymore 😀
How to Run Cross Country (WikiHow)
Basic Cross Country Training (Everything Track and Field)
The Art of Running Faster (X/C section) (Human Kinetics)
Cross Country Specific Training Tips (RunnersWorld)
Cross Country Running – Specific Training Demands (Kinetic Revolution)
Hal Higdon Cross Country Training Program (Hal Higdon)
Strategies for Cross Country Racing (run.isport)
(Fixture List for National X/C races & List of all Running Clubs)
Here’s another one of my previous blog posts which may be of interest
The Off-Season – What’s a Triathlete to do?